TAMPA -- King rising senior first baseman/designated hitter Keon Barnum, one of next season’s top MLB draft prospects, has received an invitation to play in this year’s Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings.
Barnum, a St. Petersburg Times' all-Suncoast first-team selection, hit .491 with 22 runs, six doubles, six homers and 27 RBIs for the Lions this past season, despite taking 26 walks in 81 plate appearances. He had an eye-popping .654 on-base percentage.
The Perfect Game All-American Classic, formerly known as the AFLAC All-American Game, is generally recognized as the best summer showcase game in the nation for high school players entering their senior year. This year’s game will be played on Aug. 14 at PETCO Park in San Diego.
Invitations to the game will formally be announced in mid July, but Perfect Game founder and president Jerry Ford said Barnum has received an invitation.
Barnum will be the second Hillsborough County player named to this year’s game. Jesuit P/SS Lance McCullers, Perfect Game’s Class of 2012 No. 1 overall prospect, has already committed to play. Past Hillsborough County participants include Alonso’s Jose Fernandez (2010), Tampa Catholic’s Shane Rowland (2009), Plant’s Mychal Givens (2008), Riverview’s Anthony Ferrara (2007) and Hillsborough’s Michael Burgess (2006).
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Barnum, who participated in last week’s Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers, is ranked the No. 17 overall prospect in the Class of 2012 by Perfect Game. He is the sixth-best prospect in Florida and No. 1 first baseman. During infield drills at last weekend’s event, one of his throws across the infield was clocked at 90 mph.
“I love the guy,” Ford said. “I think his ceiling is astronomical. I’d like to see him play a little outfield, but he has some of the best hitting tools and power in the country. He has that kind of Jason Heyward, Fred McGriff kind of framework.”
Proceeds from the game go to pediatric cancer research.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @EddieHometeam)